Freeze drying vs dehydrating. Both processes are widely used for preserving food longer than its natural shelf life, but if you had to choose, which is better? To figure this out, we will have to look at the different advantages each food brings. The categories to compare them would be shelf life, foods that can be dehydrated/freeze dried, taste, rehydration process, and nutritional value. Freeze drying has more benefits because it provides a longer shelf life, retains the nutritional value of the food, and you can freeze dry a wider variety of foods than you can dehydrate. However, let's dive deeper to see how wide of a gap there is between these two methods.
When looking at the shelf life of dehydrated food, it usually lasts between one and five years, whereas freeze dried candy and food can last up to 25 when stored properly. This is because the freeze-drying process removes more water from the food, allowing it to be preserved longer. With both freeze drying and dehydrating, there are foods that cannot undergo the process. Freeze drying, it exclusively oil-based foods like syrups and honey, as they would leave behind an oily residue. Though you can also dehydrate most foods, there are some that can be freeze-dried and not dehydrated, like dairy products, juice and sodas. Next is taste, for freeze dried food, even if you don’t rehydrate the food the taste is still the same. If you freeze dry candy like salt water taffy, the taste will still be similar to salt water taffy after the procedure. On the other hand, dehydrated food loses a lot of its flavour, making it less enjoyable, even after rehydration.
On the topic of rehydration, this process is easier to do with freeze-dried food as you can achieve this with either hot or cold water for a few minutes. With dehydration, you have to use boiling hot water, which may not always be easy to get to, and can take up to 20 minutes to do. Last is nutritional value. When freeze drying you retain all of the nutritional value of the freeze-dried candy or food of your choice, however with dehydration you lose 50% of that nutrition.
In a competition, freeze-dried foods beat out dehydrated foods in almost every category, taste, rehydration, variety of foods that can be freeze dried and most importantly nutritional value. Though you can dehydrate at home much more easily than freeze drying at home, that time spent to get a worse result versus just buying pre-made freeze-dried food may not be worth it.